Local runner begins new marathon challenge

As published by Cayman News Service

Veteran marathon man Derek Haines is taking on yet another incredible and gruelling challenge to raise $1 million for a local heart charity. In 2016, the 67-year-old runner is planning to run In a 50K endurance race, scale three Bolivian mountain peaks and finish two marathons to raise cash for Have a Heart Cayman Islands.

Haines will be donning his well-worn running shoes on Sunday, 21 February, for the first of the challenges when he lines up for the local Off the Beaten Track 50K ultra marathon race on Grand Cayman.

Over the past six years, Haines has raised more than $2 million pounding pavements in marathons for local charities, including raising the funds and materials for a new Cayman HospiceCare facility. Now Haines is aiming to help Have a Heart Cayman Islands, which facilitates life-saving cardiac procedures for children in partnership with Health City Cayman Islands, a state-of-the-art, world-class hospital.  Have a Heart Cayman Islands is committed to saving children’s lives throughout the Caribbean and around the world, regardless of social or socioeconomic status, race, sex or religion.

“This is an exciting challenge that will push me to the limits but I am sure that I, and my fellow participants, are up to it,” he said. “This represents another huge fundraiser for a fairly small population but the generosity of the Cayman community has shone through year after year and I am very grateful for the continued support.”

After Sunday’s race, Haines will head to Bolivia with Mike Burcombe and Vico Testori for the mountain climbs where they will scale three peaks with a combined height of 57,285 feet. He will then head to Cuba in November for the first of the two marathons and end the challenge back at home in the Cayman Islands in December.

With the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman supporting Haines, his fellow Rotarians Chris Bailey and Shane Delaney are also involved in the $1 million charity challenge. They will both be attempting separate Ironman challenges in the US and Spain.

All travel costs and registration fees for the challenge will be self-funded by the participants and every dollar raised will go directly to Have a Heart Cayman Islands.  At no time, will funds raised get diverted to administration or overhead costs, organisers said.

As with previous charity appeals, Rotary Club treasurer and past president Chris Johnson is opening a dedicated bank account for all funds raised. “I think it is very important for donors to understand that 100 percent of donations will be used to help the children in need of this life saving project,” Johnson said. “I am not being over-dramatic; without the surgeries, they will die.”

The inspiring challenge by Haines is supported by the patronage of Governor Helen Kilpatrick, who backed his successful 2014 HospiceCare fundraiser. “As soon as I learned about the amazing work Have a Heart Cayman Islands does for children around the world, I had absolutely no hesitation in wanting to get involved,” said Kilpatrick.

“Nothing can have more of an impact than this; we are talking about saving children’s lives. It is again an example of the warmth, generosity and caring nature of the people of the Cayman Islands and enhances the growing reputation of the country as a centre of excellence for medicine.

“I thank Derek again for his selflessness for undertaking this challenge and his passion for always wanting to help. I wish both him and the team the very, very best,” she added.